Sunday, December 14, 2008

Apartment Fire

Just a quick note to let you know why I have been MIA and am likely to remain so for a while longer.  

A fire in our apartment Friday morning destroyed most of our possessions and has made it impossible for us to continue living in the unit.  My husband, M and I are all fine and are being wonderfully taken care of by the community of which we are a part.  We are very thankful!

Needless to say, though, the next couple of weeks are going to be pretty hectic, and I will probably not be blogging much.  I will try to give an update with more details and pictures sometime soon.  

Thursday, December 11, 2008

ABC Tuna Cans

I've just discovered that tunafish cans are pretty easy to recycle. They wash out easily, and their labels peel right off. Today they worked great for practicing M.'s letters. She's learned up through E; so I glued a circle with each letter up through E into the bottom of each can. I made some extra circles with letters and let M sort.

Our "sorting pattern" for all kinds of puzzles is:

What letter is that?
(sometimes answer from M)
That's an (A) isn't it?
Can you find an (A) over here?
(M points)
That's right. Can you put the (A) on the (A)?
(M puts the letter in place)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Completed Puzzle

Those of you who commented on the last post were absolutely right! This is how we announced to our family that I am pregnant. We are so thankful and excited to be expecting our second child!

(The words say: "Five weeks, 1/7th centimeter." My husband was actually the one who made the puzzle, and he wanted to make sure that the message wasn't too obvious to the grandparents as they were putting it together. That's why he wrote in Spanish)

By the way, I'd love to hear about fun or creative ways that you or someone you know has announced a pregnancy! I look forward to reading your comments!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Anyone want to guess?

We recently sent this puzzle to both sets of grandparents. Anyone want to guess what it says when it's put together?

Christmas Present Store

Buying Christmas presents is a risky business! Especially if you are on the frugal side of things and hate the idea of wasting money on a present that the person doesn't really want.

My parents' solution to this perennial problem is to set up a Christmas present store. Every year as Christmas approaches my mother keeps her eyes open for sales at stores and garage sales. She buys up a stash of items she thinks we might possibly enjoy,meticulously organizes receipts, and keeps the potential gifts in waiting until Christmas morning.

We each receive a certain number of "Christmas store dollars" as a wrapped gift. Then up from the basement come the boxes of goodies, each marked with it's Christmas store price. We have the opportunity to buy whatever we would like with our fake money and if there is any left over we are welcome to redeem it for real cash. Since people have an opportunity to choose what they would like my mother feels free to include lots of practical little items that are probably more useful than "gifty."

This system isn't for everyone. If you're not comfortable making a lot of returns, it wouldn't be economical at all. (My mother, on the other hand, is the queen of returns- all the stores know her as the "return lady").

It is a fun tradition though- a nice way to make sure everyone will probably get something they want or need and a way to de-fuse some of the stress of gift-giving.

For more fun tips visit here!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Printable Paper Doll Links

My sister and I had a steamer trunk full of paper dolls that we played with for hours growing up. Over the years, each doll developed her own history and personality that we built upon every time we played. To this day, there are still private jokes she and I have tied to that collection of dolls. It is one of my fondest sisterly memories.

Collecting the paperdolls became something of a hobby even into our preteen and early teenage years. We were always looking for more good quality dolls. Had the internet been around back then we might have printed out hundreds of dolls for free!

Here is a list of good-quality, printable paper dolls available for free on the internet. I have tried to include only sets where the dolls are dressed modestly. If you notice any problems with this in the links, let me know so I can edit this post.

Marilee's Paperdolls. Probably THE best site for printable paperdolls. Literally hundreds of dolls, plus printable doll house with furniture
Karen's Whimsy - vintage paper dolls from various eras
Designs by Lucinda Durbin. - a new set just about every month! United States historical characters paperdolls
My America paper dolls- simple designs based on the Dear America book series
Danish paperdoll in folk costumes Adult paper dolls from a variety of historical periods. Also included are some sets from great pieces of literature. Some of the sets contain some immodest figures; so parents might not want to let their children have free reign here. I included the link despite this fact because it really seems to be a useful resource. Could be great for homeschooling.
Patty Reed paper dolls based on the vintage sewing pattern series

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What can children do?

If you want to see what children can do, you must first stop giving them things.
-Norman Douglas

Birthday Lanterns

Here's something cheap, easy and fun we did to decorate for my brother's birthday dinner this past week.

Decorate a bunch of small plastic cups with markers. You could let your kids draw pictures or scribble. We wrote out "Happy Birthday, (Name)!" (one letter on each cup)

Cut a small slit in the bottom of each cup. Or, if you want the up and down look like we did, just cut a slit in every other cup.

Slip the cup over each light on a string of white Christmas lights. Use tape on the upright positioned cups if you go for the up and down look.

This would be especially fun if you have an evening, outdoor birthday party!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Twice the Fun Tuesday- Old Gloves

Michigan winters= Lots of gloves, scarves, hats, and mittens around the house

Lots of gloves, scarves, hats and mittens + 3 not-so-careful kids= lots of orphaned gloves and mittens

1 orphaned glove + needle and thread + 2 pipe cleaners + 1 button + dryer lint = A cute little squirrel!
I wish I had taken a picture of the glove in its sorry orphaned state to give you a better appreciation for the transformation, but those of you from the North have likely seen your share of pathetic, orphaned gloves.

Perhaps you have a pile of said gloves at this very moment and would like to make your own little critters. The directions for the squirrel are here. (They call it a chipmunk, but I have never seen a chipmunk with a tail like THAT).

Apparently, however, there is a book filled with loads of other creatures you can make with old gloves. I have not seen the book personally, but if any of you have used it and can give me a recommendation about whether or not to buy it, I would be very appreciative!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Counters

My counters smell like Christmas every time I clean them thanks to an idea from Kids, Cakes, Dishes and Laundry! And yours can too! Here how:

Using a small spray bottle, combine a few drops essence of peppermint or peppermint extract with a scent and dye free multi-purpose cleaner. I used 7th Generation Free and Clear.

It works great! No sticky residue- just sweet candy cane smell wafting up to my nose every time I clean. A little extra motivation for cleaning this busy time of year never hurts!

Little Box House

I looked out the window to the trash the other day and discovered that someone had thrown away an absolutely terrific box!

Here it is fixed up as a fun little house for M. Inside there is an overstuffed chair, a little cardboard bookshelf, a picture on the wall, and an end table with a lamp on it for reading (flashlight).
As I was fixing up the box I wondered whether M was actually old enough to enjoy this sort of thing yet, but I needn't have worried. She thought it was great, and ended up sitting on the chair for long stretches of time, looking at her books and playing with the flashlight.
She even giggled as she knocked on the door!

All this fun from an old water heater box!